Take these simple steps to help you breathe easier as well as prevent hyperthermia during the summer months:
- On hot days, stay indoors in air-conditioned spaces. If you don't have air conditioning, go to a senior center, shopping mall, movie theater, library, bookstore or a friend’s or relative's air-conditioned home. Many communities have cooling centers where you can stay when temperatures rise; call your local health department to find one near you.
- Listen to daily weather reports, paying special attention to forecasts of spikes in heat. Plan your activities accordingly.
- Do your errands, exercise and other outside activities early. Avoid venturing outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
- Remain indoors when pollen counts are high.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool fluids, but avoid alcoholic, caffeinated or sugary beverages, which can all be dehydrating. The warmer the weather, the more you should drink. Check with your doctor first, however, if he or she has restricted your fluid intake. Avoid very cold drinks; they can cause stomach cramping.
- Replace salt and minerals lost through heavy sweating. Sports drinks like Gatorade replace salts called electrolytes, but if you’re on a low-salt diet, ask your doctor if it's safe to drink them. Don't take salt tablets unless directed by your doctor.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that "breathes."
- Take a tepid shower, bath or sponge bath to cool off.
- Limit use of heat-producing appliances in your home, such as ovens, stoves, clothes dryers and dishwashers.
- Park your car in a shady area and avoid getting into a hot car.
- Don't skip doses of prescribed drugs for respiratory ailments, such as COPD, asthma or seasonal allergies.
Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50